United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs has plans to double size of building | SteamboatToday.com

United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs has plans to double size of building

Steamboat's first Methodist congregation formed in 1895 when a circuit rider minister began visiting the community. However, the first church, pictured here, was built in 1902 and served until 1951. The modern church at Eighth and Oak streets in Steamboat was dedicated in 1960 and plans are underway to build a significant expansion.
Courtesy photo

— Members of the construction planning team at the United Methodist Church in downtown Steamboat Springs gathered recently for a meeting, only to find the sanctuary was taken by the worship committee meeting, and another church committee was in session next door in the Fellowship Hall. The choir room was full with a community meditation group, and a women’s exercise group was downstairs in the large children’s room.

Ironically, that’s the very issue the construction team was meeting to address; the 55-year-old church building is overdue for an expansion to meet congregation and community needs. Plans for a 5,600-square-foot Spiritual Life Center addition to the church will go to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission in November with the design that will approximately double the floor plan of the church.

The congregation has been talking about expanding for many years, according to Tim Selby, church pastor since 2010 and associate pastor for 17 years before that. The church membership in early June voted overwhelmingly to move forward to fund raise and then break ground in spring 2016 for the one-year construction project.

The former parsonage next door to the main church building will be removed to make way for the expansion.

“Our hope is that our church be a place of vibrancy and energy in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs, not just for our church, but also facilitating the great work of so many organizations in our community,” Selby said. “We want to provide space for healthy, life-giving activities that benefit people from all walks of life.”

The Spiritual Life Center will include increased space for music, nursery, youth and adult Sunday School programs at the church, which are currently housed in cramped or windowless basement quarters. The new building will also include a larger kitchen and a flexible space available for community use. Selby said the church sanctuary is regularly in demand for music programs, youth programs and church and community activities.

The current church building was dedicated in March 1960, but the Methodist Church in Steamboat dates to 1895. According to the church’s history books, the Methodist church was founded when circuit rider Rev. F.G. Boylan arrived to form a small group. The land where the church now stands was purchased in 1896 for $350. The first church building was constructed after a groundbreaking in 1901 by James H. Crawford, of the founding family of Steamboat. The first building originally cost $4,000 and served Steamboat from June 1902 until fall 1951.

Steamboat resident Katherine Gourley, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday with a big party at the Community Center, is the longest term member of the congregation, having joined the church in 1934 at the age of 9.

“I am thankful for the founders of the church for their tenacity and faithfulness in making the church such a vital part of this community,” Gourley said. “I am thankful for their support as I was growing up, and I am thankful for the many people and pastors who have been here through the years and are serving now.”

Gourley, who grew up on a ranch in the south valley near Sydney, said in her youth her family could only attend church and Sunday school in the warmer months when they could make it to town with horses. Later, as a teenager, she boarded with a family in Steamboat during the winter months so she could attend high school and church.

Initial funding for the planned Spiritual Life Center is made possible through a gift from the estate of former longtime member Vernon Summer. The church congregation currently is fundraising for the remainder of the project, which has an estimated total cost of $2.5 million, said Ted Atkinson, co-chair of the Church Building Committee.

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